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Second Lufthansa pilots' strike looms

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Second Lufthansa pilots' strike looms
Photo: DPA
18:09 CEST+02:00
The odds of a further Lufthansa strike shortened Saturday with the pilots’ union vowing it would not back away from threats to walk off the job in just over a week.

After agreeing to arbitration over pay and job security, the airline and the union are now battling over how to get arbitration up and running.

Lufthansa has demanded that the pilots’ union Cockpit – representing some 4,000 pilots – agrees to call off strike action before talks about arbitration can go ahead.

But a Cockpit spokesman said on Saturday the union refused to let “the strike pressure slip away.”

“Lufthansa wants something from us, it wants to avert damage to the company and therefore they have make the first move,” he said. “If they don’t back off from their position, then a strike will definitely happen from April 13.”

The spokesman accused Lufthansa of playing for time.

But Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said on Saturday the airline still expected the pilots to cancel the strike.

“Anyone who is serious about arbitration has to commit fully to it,” he said.

He stressed that Lufthansa had already suffered “enormous damage” by the mere threat of the strike action from April 13 to 16. Thousands of travellers had already booked with other airlines for these dates.

Lufthansa had previously made the acceptance of the preliminary negotiations about the timing, format and leadership of the arbitration conditional on a withdrawal of the strike threat – a demand Cockpit dismissed as “blackmail.”

The union has said it would only agree to rule out industrial action if the form and scope of the arbitration – including when it starts and who mediates it – is clear.

The union spokesman countered: “Whoever is serious about arbitration doesn’t offer the arbitration with simultaneous threats of claims for damages and one-sided non-compliance with the agreement.''

Lufthansa had previously threatened the union with claims for damages worth millions of euros.

The dispute, which centres on the airline’s plan for a 21-month pay freeze, led to a round of walkouts in February, but that planned four-day strike was cut short after a day by a Frankfurt court. Nevertheless, it led to about 2,000 flight cancellations and, according to Lufthansa, cost the airline about €48 million.

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